With 2012 being the year of the Kidz Ultimate Challenge (KUC) for the UK & Europe Bal-Balika Mandal, a special day of training for young children aged between 3 and 8 years was held on Saturday 26 May 2012 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. Over 350 shishus and parents attended from across the UK.

The National KUC Shishu Training Day was entitled ‘Be the Best’, as per the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj for the KUC. Accordingly, the programme focused on providing the young children with the key skill sets required to become the best in forthcoming KUC competitions. The training day allowed an opportunity for parents to learn with their children and pick up various tips and guidance on how to enhance their child’s development while also refining their parenting skills.

The fun-packed day commenced with a warm welcome from the organisers and the traditional deep pragatya inviting Maharaj and Swamishri to grace the training day. The audience was treated to an enjoyable video presentation highlighting the talents of young children across the globe and was enforced by the message that every child is special; their potential needs to be tapped into and nurtured. Young participants of the KUC performed a beautiful rendition of ‘Hai Akshar Purushottam pyara’ to the delight of all seated to emphasise that young children in the KUC are already developing various skills and talents. Yagnatilak Swami concluded the opening session by elaborating on the blessings given by Pramukh Swami Maharaj for the KUC.

The training day consisted of various enjoyable and informative sessions. Children were taught the art of storytelling, using emotion, props and sound effects. Arts and crafts sessions were organised to educate youngsters on the use of colour, crafts material and decoration. To test what they had learned, the shishus and parents were given the chance to decorate their own arti plates and produce greeting cards – with impressive results.

A bhakti class was arranged for 3- to 5-year-old children and their parents teaching them how to perform mala, pradakshinas, panchang pranam, and other devotional activities. It provided an important opportunity for family bonding. The class concluded with the children learning to sing bhajans with a view to boosting their confidence and singing ability.

Experienced volunteers taught public speaking skills to 6- to 8-year-olds, touching upon such aspects as body language, eye contact, and intonation. After a hearty and delicious lunch, the children took part in various sports and games, while the parents convened for a parenting session. The parenting session provided details on future KUC competitions and expert guidance from the KUC parenting team on how to bring out the best in young children while overcoming shyness, nervousness and reluctance.

The day concluded with a vote of thanks and an inspiring discourse from Anandpriya Swami, motivating the parents to go back from the training day, equipped with new methods, to engage with and develop their children. The youngsters were given a goodie bag to take home, and all left the training day with a new vision and purpose to become ‘the best’ as a child and parent.

One parent summed up the feelings of many who took part in this memorable training day: “I cannot thank the KUC organisers enough for a very enjoyable and motivational day. I have better realised my duty as a parent and understand the need to spend more quality time with my children. Thank you very much once again for explaining my duty as a father. I will now go home as a new and improved dad!” 

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